Alex Patty: British teenager found in France returns to UK

image source, Greater Manchester Police

image caption,

A younger Alex Patty took the photo before she disappeared

British teenager Alex Patty, who was found missing in France for six years, has returned to the UK, Greater Manchester Police say.

Alex, his mother and grandfather all disappeared while on holiday in Spain in 2017.

The 17-year-old’s mother does not have parental guardianship and her current whereabouts are unknown.

The force said in a press conference that they have not yet established the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

Police have not yet decided whether a criminal investigation will take place.

Alex was found on Wednesday by a motorist who spotted him on a road in the foothills of the French Pyrenees near Toulouse.

image caption,

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said his force had not yet decided whether a criminal investigation would take place

Speaking at a news conference on Saturday night, GMP Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said Alex was met by a family member and specially trained officers at Toulouse airport before returning to the UK.

“This moment is undoubtedly huge for him and his loved ones and we are delighted that they can see each other again after such a long time.”

GMP said it could not comment on details released by French authorities about what Alex was doing when he went missing, as formal statements from him were not available.

ACC Boyle added: “Talking to him at a pace he is comfortable with will ultimately determine how this case progresses and whether a criminal investigation should take place.”

“We have not yet fully established the circumstances of his disappearance.”

Alex is believed to have been living a nomadic life in spiritual communities with his mother and grandfather for the past few years.

Melanie and David Patty left Greater Manchester with Alex for a week’s holiday in Marbella, Spain on 30 September 2017.

He was last seen in Malaga harbor on 8 October that year, on which day they were expected to return to England.

From that time, Alex is understood to have lived in remote Pyrenean valleys, traveling from place to place in a sort of itinerant commune.

The area in the foothills of the Pyrenees is known for attracting people in search of an alternative lifestyle.

Residents of La Bastide, a small village in the Pyrenees, told the BBC that Alex had been staying in a guest house for the past two years.

French authorities said he decided to leave when his mother wanted to go to Finland.

Alex is believed to have walked through the hilly terrain of southern France for four days before being found by a delivery driver in the middle of the night.

The driver, Fabian Assidini, said he gave the teenager his phone and let him use his Facebook account to contact his grandmother, Susan Caruana.

“I cannot express my joy and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well,” she said in a statement released by police on Friday.

“It was great to hear his voice and see his face again,” she added.

He requested the family’s privacy so they could “get him back as soon as possible.”

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